Oct 25, 2023 - Culture

San Diego Beer Week is back, without marquee events

Brewers gather to brew the "Capital of Craft" IPA for San Diego Beer Week

Brewers gather to brew the "Capital of Craft" West Coast IPA for San Diego Beer Week, at Modern Times Point Loma. Photo: Courtesy of San Diego Brewers Guild

Beer Week is shifting styles.

Driving the news: The annual celebration of the region's craft beer industry runs Nov. 3-12, and is now focusing on smaller, more local events, the San Diego Brewers Guild announced in a press release last week.

  • This year's Beer Week is built around a "Guild on the Street" happy hour series at seven breweries around the county.
  • The Guild Fest, its traditional marquee launch event, isn't happening this year, but the Guild said it will hold the festival in February 2024.

Why it matters: The change in the beer industry's annual event series reflects shifts in the industry, which has become a staple in the region's food and beverage landscape, but is no longer subject to the hype that came with its dramatic growth over the last decade.

What they're saying: Erik Fowler, executive director of the Brewers' Guild, said the Beer Week has transitioned from highly visible events at esteemed bars, in part because craft beer has become ubiquitous.

  • "As a market, we're just becoming more mature," he said. "There's not a lot of growth coming from new breweries opening anymore. But there are tap rooms that are still packed, sustained by locals and regulars."
  • "You can go to any bar now and get great San Diego beer," he said. "That's phenomenal, but it's not as visible as the growth we saw 10 years ago, which stood out because it was outside the norm."

The big picture: Beer Week's changes are consistent with the industry. Nationwide, major beer festivals are vanishing amid diminishing attendance and evolving market dynamics, Axios Denver reported this summer.

By the numbers: Craft beer growth was basically flat in 2022, and the market's overall volume was slightly below pre-pandemic highs, but it's settled in well above its level a decade ago, according to the Brewers Association, an industry trade group.

  • The industry produced about 25 million barrels of beer nationwide last year, after producing about 13 million barrels in 2012.
  • There were 957 breweries in California last year, a number that's been mostly flat since 2019, but there were just 319 in 2012.
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